There are memorable knockouts...and then there are brutal, hold-your-breath-because-you-know-it's-coming knockouts like the one Roy Nelson delivered on Pride legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi.
In Friday's main event, Nelson hurt the slower Nogueira with a big overhand right early, wobbled him further moments later with it again, and then dropped the anvil one last time at the 3:37 mark of the first round. Nogueira fell straight backwards as if somebody yelled "timber!" as Nelson walked away with his arms raised in victory. Nelson's seventh knockout in the UFC earned him the $50,000 Performance of the Night award. Nelson has won the knockout bonus money three other times in his UFC career.
The win snaps a two-fight losing streak for "Big Country," who expected the bout to drag on a bit longer than it did. The knockout also may have come at a price.
"I was expecting a five-round battle but things ended a little early," he said in a statement afterwards. "Nog has an incredibly hard head; I think I broke my hand. My game plan was to throw more lefts and mix in some takedowns and eventually try to win each round. I didn’t think I was going to be the hometown favorite but Abu Dhabi really was behind me tonight. For my next opponent I want Cain Velazquez because I prefer to move backwards in calling out my opponents."
Also taking home POTN bonus money from Abu Dhabi was Ramsey Nijem, who got hit with a couple of solid shots early by Beneil Dariush, but dominated from the opening minute until the end (the TKO came at the 4:20 mark of the first round). Nijem (9-4) has now won two in a row. It marks the first time in Nijem's UFC career that he won an end of the night bonus.
The Fight of the Night honors went to the Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri, as the featherweights engaged in a grappling battle that saw many reversals of fortune. In the end, Guida scored the unanimous victory over the Japanese fighter. Just as with Nijem and Nelson, each man received $50,000.